21/05/2020

The Department for Child Protection (DCP) has engaged a group of nationally recognised child protection experts to help it to deliver on its commitment to full implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle and to support better outcomes for all Aboriginal children and young people in care.

Recognising the critical importance of Aboriginal governance in all child protection decision making, the external Expert Aboriginal Child Protection Advisory Committee has been established to guide DCP policy, practice and programs for Aboriginal children and young people.

The Committee, chaired by DCP Chief Executive Cathy Taylor, will meet for the first time today via video link.

“We’ve brought together a broad cross-section of leaders who have dedicated their lives to improving outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people and families and we are so grateful to be able to tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise they hold,” she said.

“As a Committee we will be working together to find genuine and positive ways to strengthen our approach to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.

“Reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the child protection system is a key priority for the Government and we are working hard to change this in partnership with Aboriginal communities and organisations.

“The primary focus of this Committee will be to support Aboriginal children and young people who are in care and to find ways to make sure they have every opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

“There is strong evidence that when Aboriginal children and young people in care remain connected to their family, community and culture this leads to better life outcomes. As part of our efforts we really want to explore how we can better support these connections.”

The Committee will meet quarterly and comprises of government and non-government representatives, including SNAICC Chief Executive Richard Weston; Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Chief Executive Adjunct Professor Muriel Bamblett AO; and Natalie Lewis, recently appointed Commissioner for the Queensland Family and Child Commission, who will initially be representing the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak.

Cathy said the strong interstate membership on the Committee would be matched with key local representation including DCP Aboriginal Practice Director Tracy Rigney; Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People April Lawrie and Aboriginal Family Support Services Chief Executive Sharron Williams.

“We have some outstanding South Australian experts and advocates who work on the ground with Aboriginal children, young people and families every day and will provide a valuable perspective on how we can ensure our work is done with the child at the centre supported by cultural safety and responsiveness,” she said.

The formation of an expert Aboriginal advisory committee was a central commitment of the department’s Aboriginal Action Plan 2019-20 (PDF, 3.7 MB).

The Committee will complement the work of the department’s Aboriginal Practice Directorate led by Tracy Rigney who has been working to ensure that the strengths of Aboriginal culture are recognised and embedded within the department’s strategic framework and practice approach.

Some of the key areas of expert advice to be provided by the Committee include:

  • Supporting the delivery of best practice, child-centred, culturally safe and responsive child protection practice for Aboriginal children, young people and their families
  • Identifying strategies to increase the number of Aboriginal children and young people placed in accordance with the placement hierarchy
  • Increasing Aboriginal governance across statutory child protection decision-making, engaging and supporting Aboriginal staff and strengthening cultural capability
  • Building, supporting and partnering with the Aboriginal community controlled sector
  • Identifying and sharing information about national trends, best practice and issues in statutory child protection to allow DCP respond proactively